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McCurrie McCurrie
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What is equitable division after a divorce?

Some states, which are known as community property states, seek equal division after a divorce. Other states, like New Jersey, seek an equitable division. What is the difference, and why does it matter for you?

The main difference is that the split is supposed to be fair, but not absolutely equal. In community property states, though you can ask for a different arrangement, the judge is going to start with the basic idea that he or she should simply split what you own as a couple in half, giving 50 percent to your spouse and 50 percent to you.

In equitable division states, you still could end up with a 50/50 split, but the judge has a lot more power to do things in a way that is deemed fair to both parties. The judge is going to look at the whole situation and determine who should get money and other assets.

For instance, if one spouse has no job and has to raise a child while the other has a good job that pays well, the spouse without employment could end up getting more of the overall wealth because he or she needs that money more. The fact that the child is involved and will need to be supported can also swing the decision in this direction.

On top of that, the judge may be interested in finding out who technically owns some of the property and how long you were married to each other. For instance, if you weren't married for long and your spouse bought a boat or a car independently during the marriage, he or she may not have to split its value with you.

Source: Huffington Post, "Why Where You Divorce Matters: Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property" David Centeno, Dec. 22, 2014

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